Saturday, May 19, 2007

Will Nifong flip & do “a Berger?”

DA Mike Nigong says he’ll fight NC State Bar charges that could lead to his disbarment following a public trial conducted by the Bar and scheduled for next month.

Now to Byron York at NRO:

There’s been some confusion in the last few days about the latest development in the classified-documents-theft-and-destruction case of former Clinton national-security adviser Samuel Berger.

When Berger announced that he had agreed to give up his law license, some readers wondered, perhaps hopefully, whether that meant the Justice Department was still pursuing the case — prosecutors still have the right to subject Berger to a polygraph examination, even after his guilty plea, $50,000 fine, agreement to perform community service, and three-year ban on handling classified material — or that perhaps Berger was under some sort of pressure from congressional investigators.

The answers are no and no.

Berger’s voluntary disbarment has nothing to do with the Justice Department or Capitol Hill. It is entirely the result of Berger’s desire to head off an investigation by the District of Columbia Bar. By giving up his license voluntarily, before an investigation was set to begin, Berger effectively closed another probe into his activities. …

Berger’s agreement stopped a process that was about to begin in the DC Bar.
I don’t know whether at this point Nifong can stop the State Bar proceedings by agreeing to surrender his license to practice law. But I would think if he did it would stop the proceedings. What grounds would the State Bar have to go forward if Nifong surrenders his law license?

Mind you, I’m not suggesting Nifong will do that; I’m just raising a question.

Does anyone know the answer?

BTW – I’m still trying to find out what happened with Professor Kim Curtis in regards to the Dowd suit in which she, along with Duke University, was named a respondent.

Byron York’s NRO article is here.

INNOCENT: Cheshire’s News; JinC Comments

"... these three individuals [David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann,] are innocent of these charges."

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, Apr. 11, 2007

News from Duke’s student newspaper, The Chronicle:

A six-page internal report on the Durham Police Department's conduct during the lacrosse case has left some calling for an external investigation. …

"I would not be surprised if [an independent investigation] would uncover conduct that was criminal in nature as it relates to obstruction of justice and creation of evidence," Joe Cheshire, an attorney for Evans, wrote in an e-mail. …
Commentary from JinC: Some people reading Cheshire’s statement may be saying: “What else is new? I’ve been saying that for months.”

Yes, haven’t we all. But only one of us could possibly be Joe Cheshire, one of North Carolina’s most experienced and best criminal defense and appellate attorneys, and certainly its best known.

When in reference to the Durham Police investigation, Cheshire says publicly and in a written document that he “would not be surprised if [an independent investigation] would uncover conduct that was would not be criminal in nature as it relates to obstruction of justice and creation of evidence,” what he’s really saying it he feels very sure it will.

At this point, with his client David Evans out of legal jeopardy and actually declared innocent along with Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann, Cheshire can only hurt his reputation if he makes such serious charges and they’re not sustained.

Cheshire will also damage his working relationships with honest law enforcement personnel (there are many) if they view him as irresponsibly throwing charges at crime investigators and police.

Cheshire knows all of that, and he doesn’t want to hurt his reputation and working relationships he’s worked very hard to build. He's also a fair person who doesn't cheap-shot.

So we can be very confident Cheshire feels sure criminal acts were committed by members of the Nifong/DPD “team;” and that it can and will be proven to the public beyond a reasonable doubt that the Nifong/DPD “team” committed those crimes.

That, to me, makes The Chronicle’s Cheshire news item hugely important.

What do you think?

The Chronicle story is here.

Friday, May 18, 2007

The Churchill Series - May 18, 2007

(One of a series of weekday posts on the life of Winston S. Churchill.)

In a review of David Reynolds’ In Command of History, an account of Churchill’s authorship of his six-volume "The Second World War," military affairs author Max Boot recounts some of the impediments to Churchill’s undertaking the work:

For one thing, the government's wartime files would not be opened for decades. Churchill had tried to get around these restrictions by collecting bound volumes of his "personal minutes" and "personal telegrams" while prime minister, but a good case could have been made that they were actually state property. And even if Churchill had been able to make use of his own papers, he would still have needed access to other sealed files to round out his narrative.

To gain the documents he required, Churchill had to promise his successor, Clement Attlee, that he would submit his text for vetting by the government before publication. This would turn Churchill's volumes into a "quasi-official history."

There was still the question of whether it would be worthwhile to write at all. Under Britain's confiscatory tax regime [then in place], Churchill would have owed 97.5 percent of his royalties to the state. "I shan't write while the Government takes all you earn," he growled.

To get around this obstacle, his lawyers came up with a dodge worthy of Enron: Churchill would donate his papers to a trust run by his friends and family, which would sell them to publishers for a handsome sum without any tax liability and provide the proceeds for Churchill to live on. The actual writing of the book would be done for a nominal - and taxable - fee.

Churchill reaped quite a bonanza from this arrangement. His chief literary agent, the press baron Lord Camrose, negotiated lucrative deals with publishers in 15 countries and even more lucrative syndication deals with 50 newspapers and magazines in 40 countries. Churchill was to clear at least $18 million in today's money - enough to secure a very comfortable dotage.
While I can’t be 100% certain, I feel sure there must have been at least one other contingency to the arrangement as Churchill’s papers wound up at the Archives Centre at Churchill College, Cambridge University.

I’m traveling now but will be home Wednesday evening, at which time I’ll check further on the terms of the arrangement.

In the meantime, those of you who wish to are certainly free to check to make sure you’ve paid everything you owe the government. But if I have any say in the matter, I’d rather you just have a nice weekend.


The Chronicle: Hacked or What?

I'm reading online Duke’s student newspaper, The Chronicle, and I come to:

Wow! I hadn’t heard about that.

Was that a real news report or did someone(s) hack into The Chronicle and post a story to make President Brodhead look even worse than he already does?

Since the report was on The Chronicle’s message board, we need to be a very skeptical.

Chronicle message board reports often prove to be as false as things we hear from President Brodhead himself and many of his faculty Group of 88 colleagues.

On the other hand, The Chronicle gave the report a large, seperate subject head as you'll see if you go here.

What’s more, the report has been up for more than five hours.

If the report is a fake, wouldn't The Chronicle, whose editors have never criticized Brodhead's refusal last spring to meet with the parents of the lacrosse players or questioned his silence when Reade Seligmann was subjected to death threats, have “pulled” the report?

At least that’s what I think. And that’s what leads me to pass on to you what The Chronicle is passing on to its readers tonight.

From The Chronicle Message Board:
Due to his almost unlimited admiration for the Brodhead's handling of the Duke lacrosse team crisis, George Bush has nominated the leader of Duke University as America's ambassador to Zimbabwe.
"It was the only quick way to get [him] outta here!" Bush is reported to have said when he thought microphones had been turned off.

Brodhead, who, as everyone knows is immune to any kind of criticism, remained standing next to the President with a goofy smile on his face, while holding a miniature flag of Zimbabwe in his left hand. "I'm only too aware that Zimbabwe has its critics," Brodhead spoke, "but it's an exemplar of diversity."

When asked about the seizure of white owned land by Mugabe's thugs, Brodhead intoned," what goes around comes around and I'm certain it was, somehow, all our fault."…
Now I want to say again I’m very skeptical of this report, especially the part about Brodhead “standing next to the President with a goofy smile of his face, while holding a miniature flag of Zimbabwe in his left hand.”

That can't be true. Brodhead is right-handed.

On the other hand (No word play intended.), The Chronicle is standing by the story and has not removed it from its site.

What to do?

JinC reports. You decide

Thursday, May 17, 2007

The Churchill Series – May 17, 2007

(One of a series of weekday posts on the life of Winston S. Churchill.)

As almost all of you know, William Manchester, one of the most popular of Churchill’s many biogrphers, died while working on the third volume of The Last Lion, the first two volumes of which, Visions of Glory and Alone, topped best seller lists and remain in print.

But there will be a third volume after all. It’s working title is Defender of the Realm. Paul Reid, a friend of Manchester’s is working with Manchester’s notes and drafts to complete the book in time for release in 2008.

One of those asked to review proofs of Defender of the Realm reported to others via email receiving the following from Reid:

I have finished Parts One (1940) and Two (1941) and will be through Parts Three, Four and Five by mid-2007. Publication is set for sometime in 2008. Bill's notes and interviews run to thousands of pages, enough to fuel at least three more volumes.

My job, therefore, is to pace this final volume. About half of it will cover 1940 and 1941, about forty-percent the remainder of the war and about 10-15 percent the post-war years. Bill saw the post-war years (or at least the last decade) as a long "afterward". Having been guided by Bill the last year of his life, and having in hand the pages he wrote (to the fall of France) I think I have a good feeling for the pace he set and where he was going.

The pages Bill finished are, as was usual with William Manchester, marvelous, full of suspense and foreshadowing, a real tale beautifully told.

Among many things he made clear to me was his desire that this book be an enjoyable read for younger people, people under 40 years of age who did not grow up with stories of the War percolating through their household.
When I learn more about the 3rd volume, I’ll pass that on. I hope you all will do the same with anything you learn.


Dowd, Duke & Curtis Questions

On the eve of Duke’s commencement the Raleigh N&O reported:

Duke and former lacrosse player Kyle Dowd disclosed that they recently settled a lawsuit filed by Dowd in January.

Dowd, who graduated from Duke last year, charged that Kim Curtis, a professor in political and feminist theory, unfairly gave him a failing grade because of the lacrosse case allegations.

Neither Duke nor Dowd would reveal the details of the settlement. A joint statement was issued.

"This lawsuit has been settled through mediation to the mutual satisfaction of Kyle Dowd and his family and Duke University, and without any admission by any party of legal liability. ... As reflected on Kyle's transcript, he has received from Duke University a 'P' [for pass] in the Politics and Literature course he took in his senior year."

Was it just a coincidence the suit was settled before thousands of parents, grandparents, alums, etc. came to campus? Or were the powers that be at Duke thinking the last month or so about all those questions they’d be asked at graduation about the Dowd suit?

Questions such as:
What has Kim Curtis done that’s so academically outstanding that Duke would invite her to serve as a visiting professor in the first place, and then invite her to stay on as a visiting professor semester after semester after semester?

She’s listed at the Political Science Department’s website as a current faculty member. Is that a mistake?

Curtis hasn’t by any chance been invited back for the fall semester, has she?

She’s one of the Group of 88. Has she repudiated the “social disaster” statement?

And if I’m not taking too much of your time, President Brodhead, has Curtis ever told you who paid to place the statement as a full-page ad in The Chronicle and where the funds came from?
The settlement came just in time for Brodhead, trustees and others to say, “The case has been settled and under terms of the settlement I can’t ……”

I’ve two other Dowd suit questions. The first one takes some “setting up.”

When the suit was filed in January 2007 I posted here and here including this:
Dowd’s attorney, Joseph E. Zeszotarski, is a very well regarded, experienced litigator who, as a result of his peers’ assessments, has earned listing since 2003 in The Best Lawyers in America. …

Zeszotarski’s law firm, Poyner & Spruill, is large (over 100 attorneys) and one of the most respected in the Southeast.

Attorneys in Zeszotarski's position and law firms like P&S are careful about the cases and clients they take on. They also knew before filing that the suit would be a very “high visibility” one that will be closely watched by other attorneys and potential S&P clients. So it’s a safe bet they believe they have a very strong case and confidence they’ll be successful.

That leads to something KC [Johnson, a historian who has taught Constitutional history courses] said in his post [ "Dowd and Duke" ]: “It’s unclear to me why Duke allowed this case to progress to a stage where a lawsuit would be filed.”

Why, indeed?
Since KC asked his question in January, I’ve asked it of a number of attorneys here in North Carolina. Like KC, they’re puzzled.

Duke always had the power to change the grade and, of course, it has very deep pockets.

So why did Duke let this case, which looked like a loser from the get go, reach the point where a suit was filed, and then, just five months later settle the suit with an acknowledgement it had changed the grade as the Dowd’s had demanded?

Last question: The news accounts in January reported the Dowd’s named Curtis a respondent along with Duke. The N&O story reporting the settlement made no mention of whether the Dowd’s settled with Curtis as well or whether she was even still a respondent.

So the question: Does anyone know what's happened as regards Curtis as a respondent from the time the suit was filed until now?

Duke Silent on Student Safety Questions

Readers Note: I’ve just sent the following electronic letter to John Burness, Duke University’s Vice President for Student Affairs and Government Relations.

I always hear back from Burness. I’ll let you know what I hear.

May 17, 2007

John Burness, Vice President for Student Affairs and Government Relations
Duke University

Dear Vice President Burness:

I’m having trouble obtaining information concerning actions Duke may have taken in the interest of student safety last spring when the “Vigilante” poster containing face photos of 43 white male students on the lacrosse team was produced and circulated on campus.

I want to report that information to my readers who include Duke students, parents, faculty, alums, and a few trustees as well as others. I also want to place it on the net where journalists and others can access it.

More than six weeks ago I sent electronic letters to Vice President for Student Affairs Larry Moneta and Duke Police Director Robert Dean. The letters contained questions regarding specific actions each administrator and his staffs may or may not have taken last March and April in regard to the “Vigilante” poster.

I told both Vice President Moneta and Director Dean I would publish their answers in full on the main page of JinC.

I’ve never heard word one from either administrator, despite sending second copies of links to my letters and leaving phone messages for them.

The questions are important. They are ones members of the Duke community want answers to as soon as they become aware of the “Vigilante” poster, and its contribution to the targeting and endangerment of Duke students and others.

Here, for example, is a brief excerpt from my letter to Vice President Moneta:

It’s my understanding you were the senior Duke administrator present at the lax parents’ meeting on Saturday, March 25, 2006; and that a parent request was made that the University remove from the face photos of all the lacrosse players.

Was such a parent request made? If it was, what did the University do in response?

If you or another administrator responded positively to the parent request, when were the photos removed from
Here is an excerpt from my letter to Director Dean:
While I’m a tech dummy, tech knowledgeable people say it’s a relatively simple matter to ID the computer used to pull from the face photos of the 43 white lacrosse players which appear on the “Vigilante” poster.

Has DUPD done that? If yes, what can you say publicly about what you learned? If not, can you say why not?

What has DUPD done to investigate the production and distribution on campus of a poster that targeted a particular group of students while heightening the risk for all?

Concerning the March 29 Take Back the Night rally on the Chapel steps, most participants spoke and acted in ways we would both affirm. But there were, as you know, a good number of “activists” there who engaged in actions described by one of the TBTN organizers, Geoffrey Lorenz, in an April 2 letter to the Raleigh News & Observer in which he said in part:

As one of the organizers of the March 29 Take Back the Night (TBTN) march and speak-out at Duke University, I want to clarify that we did not plan, nor do we endorse, the distribution of names and pictures of members of the Duke men's lacrosse team.

The distribution of the pictures, the targeting of the lacrosse team, and the violence implicit in the defacement of the pictures are nothing less than violations of the space that TBTN exists to create. The event is neither a protest of the kind we've witnessed recently, a forum for accusation nor a place to target and defame.

What was DUPD’s role with regard to TBTN?
I’m sure we agree, Mr. Burness, that anyone who cares about student safety at Duke would want to know the answers to those questions and other equally important ones I’ve asked Vice President Moneta and Director Dean.

Is there any way you can help me to get answers to the questions so I can pass those answers on to readers?

By their silences, Vice President Moneta and Director Dean are putting the University in a bad light.

The URLs in which you’ll find the letters follow:

This to Vice President Moneta:

This to Director Dean:

Thank you for your attention to my request. I look forward to your response.


John in Carolina

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The Churchill Series – May 16, 2007

(One of a series of weekday posts on the life of Winston S. Churchill.)

Yesterday I posted from Churchill on Leadership: Executive Success in the Face of Adversity by Steven F. Hayward who made the point that while Churchill could certainly use strong words and imagery (recall “a whole circle of avenging nations will hurl themselves at the “jackal’s throat.”), he was also when need be a master at softening a message in order “to get the point across without giving offense or causing acrimony.”

Hayward gave as an example of Churchill's softening a message his reworking of a telegram to the dominion governments in 1940 regarding the status of the Duke of Windsor.

The government decided to send the Duke to a sinecure post at one of Britain’s overseas colonies. The Colonial Office drafted a message for Churchill to send. It began:

“The activities of the Duke of Windsor on the Continent in recent months have been causing HM[His Majesty] and myself grave uneasiness as his inclinations are well known to be pro-Nazi and he may become the center of intrigue. We regard it as a real danger that he should move freely on the Continent. Even if he were willing to return to this country his presence here would be most embarrassing both to HM and to the Government.”
Churchill reworked the paragraph so that in final form it read:
"The position of the Duke of Windsor on the Continent in recent months has been causing His Majesty and His Majesty’s Government embarrassment, as, though his loyalties are unimpeachable, there is always a backwash of Nazi intrigue which seeks to make trouble about him. The Continent is now in enemy hands. There are personal and family difficulties about his return to this country."
With all respect to Hayward, Churchill does much more than merely soften the paragraph he received from the Colonial Office.

Most importantly, Churchill changes the CO's version to such an extent that his version says the opposite of what the CO all but said about the Duke’s loyalties to England.

Churchill says the Duke’s loyalties are “unimpeachable” while the CO says his “inclinations are well known to be pro-Nazi.”

The CO sentence -- "We regard it as a real danger that he should move freely on the Continent." – can reasonably be interpreted to mean “real danger” of defection to the Nazis. That was a concern to some in the British government.

In place of the CO’s “We regard …” sentence Churchill writes: “there is always a backwash of Nazi intrigue which seeks to make trouble about him. The Continent is now in enemy hands.”

“Nazi intrigue” could also be interpreted to be suggesting that Edward might intrigue to defect to the Nazis, but it could at least equally be interpreted as suggesting that he could inadvertently be used for propaganda purposes or even perhaps kidnapped by the Nazis and taken to Germany.

The CO ends with: “Even if he were willing to return to this country his presence here would be most embarrassing both to HM and to the Government.”

Churchill ends with: “There are personal and family difficulties about his return to this country.”

Churchill’s substituting “difficulties” for “most embarrassing” certainly softens the last sentence.

But Churchill does something much more important with the CO’s last sentence: he removes the specific references to “HM [King George VI] and to the Government.” They’re replaced by the more ambiguous “personal and family.”

The King and the Government are no longer in the position the CO, inadvertently for sure, placed them in of telling the dominions they didn’t want Edward back in England because his presence there would be “most embarrassing” to the King and the Government as it surely would have been.

And did you notice that Churchill took the CO's "most embarrassing" assertion, stuck it at the beginning of the paragraph and told the dominions that it was Edward's presence "on the Continent in recent months[that]has been causing His Majesty and His Majesty’s Government embarrassment?"(Emphasis added)

Quite a switch, isn't it?

Churchill is such a rewarding person to study.

INNOCENT: Chafe’s latest: No apology

"... these three individuals [David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann,] are innocent of these charges."

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, Apr. 11, 2007

Readers Note: To understand the post below the star line, you should be familiar with the following posts:

"An Invitation to Duke's Prof. Chafe"

INNOCENT: "Prof. Chafe Responds"

"Comments Responding to Prof. Chafe"

INNOCENT:"Chafe responded; I'm holding"
ERROR ALERT: This post initially said Duke raised Kyle Dowd's grade from "F" to "D." "thus allowing Dowd to graduate." I was wrong. Dowd would have graduated even if Duke had not changed his grade. The post has now been corrected to reflect that. I regret my error. John

Readers Note: As many of you know, I’ve had letter exchanges with William Chafe, Alice Mary Baldwin Professor of American History at Duke University and a signatory of the faculty’s Group of 88’s “social disaster” statement that ran as a full-page ad in the Apr. 6, 2006 Chronicle.

I’ve shared with Chafe my concerns about the "social disaster" statement, most pointedly and in detail the fact that it made an already dangerous situation at Duke even more dangerous. Chafe does not agree and stands by the statement.

Many JinC readers commented on the threads. They asked questions that deserve answers from every member of the “88.” They expressed concerns that are shared within the Duke community by many still silent faculty as well as by tens of thousands of Duke students, parents, and alums.

In my last letter I urged Chafe to respond to at least some of what commenters were asking and saying.

Chafe declined as you'll see in his letter below.

I responded with a brief letter that follows his. I added at the end of my letter a text copy of a statement signed by about 1,000 Duke students who demanded the faculty's Group of 88 apologize for the harms done by "social disaster" statement which the students detailed.

I doubt Chafe, who’s in Venice this semester, was aware of the students' demand when he wrote his latter.

I doubt too, whether Chafe is aware of all that's been happening at Duke and in Durham these past few days. So I mention some of that in my letter.

Now here’s Chafe’s latest letter, followed by my reply and the students' statement demanding an apology.
Dear John,

Thanks for the opportunity to respond to your comments. I do not wish to become involved in multiple communications about what I or others have said since I believe that is more likely to result in more recrimination, and that serves no useful purpose.

I appreciate your recognizing that the “group of 88” is not an entity. Many of us do not know each other, and would not recognize each other if we passed on a street. We all did sign an advertisement. You and many of your readers have criticized that document. Each of us has a different interpretation of what the document was intended to say.

From my previous statement, you know my interpretation – that it was primarily an expression of concern for situations within our campus culture that needed attention. Those problems persist and those of us who are committed to Duke must continue to address them. The problem is not the number of reported sexual assaults on campus, but the large number of unreported assaults. When my students – typical Duke students – tell me that a very small percentage of sexual assaults get reported, I believe them.

I regret, and so do many others, that the advertisement, as interpreted by some, has led to division, recrimination, and hostility. Many ask that I/we apologize for the statement. But to apologize for something that others interpret differently than yourself is not an act of principle, but rather one of expediency and hypocrisy. I did apologize for my erroneous generalization about bloggers. That was my mistake for which I am accountable.

I do not believe that I ever presumed “guilt” on the part of those accused – indeed I stated explicitly that only the criminal process could determine guilt or innocence, which it now has. I am very sorry that the advertisement has become THE MAJOR point of contention rather than what I believe to be the more critical issue, how we treat each other on campus.

I am also concerned with the generalization that we should stand with the students, period. Should I stand with my freshman woman student who was appalled that a stripper, black, was hired for an on-campus party, or should I stand with those who hired the stripper. That’s why generalizations create problems, whether I/we make them, or others do.

Some – perhaps many – of your readers will continue to focus on the ad. That is their right, but I would prefer that we choose to move on to a constructive agenda of how Duke can come to exemplify how we would like our young people in college to treat each other, and how we as adults believe we should treat each other.

As you know, I am teaching abroad for Duke, but I will be happy to meet with any group of people who would like to discuss such a constructive agenda when I return.


Bill Chafe
Dear Professor Chafe,

Thank you for your prompt reply to my letter.

While I appreciate your responding at a time when you’re in Venice teaching for Duke, busy with end of semester tasks and preparing to return to Durham, I’m very disappointed by your failure to address critical problems inflamed by the Group of 88's “social disaster” statement, especially its heightening of danger to students

Given all that’s before you in the next few days, and given all that’s happened at Duke and Durham in the last few days, I propose we suspend our correspondence for at least a week in order to give you a chance to return to Duke and “settle in.”

Among other things that have happened at Duke in the last few days are:

1) The settlement of the Dowd suit on terms which can’t be spoken about publicly by either party, but which were obviously favorable to Duke graduate Kyle Dowd, a former lacrosse player, and his parents.

You may recall "88" signatory Professor Kim Curtis initially gave Dowd an "F" which Duke later raised to a "D."

But Dowd and his parents insisted the grade should be a “P” which Duke initially said was not warranted. The settlement statement noted Duke had changed Dowd's grade to "P."

2) The “revision” by Duke News of its account of what happened last spring now claims President Brodhead cancelled the lacrosse season on April 5, 2006 out of concern for the safety of the lacrosse players.

Whatever you and I may think of President Brodhead and what is now claimed in his name at Duke News, I'll bet we agree that Brodhead, Duke University and the attorneys representing them will cite as support for Brodhead’s claim of "players' safety" events surrounding April 5, 2006 including your Group of 88 statement the following day.

Meanwhile, in Durham we’ve just had a “report” from City Manager Patrick Baker and Police Chief Steve Chalmers that was meant to be “the official Durham City/ Police Department account of the ‘lacrosse rape investigation.’”

Baker and Chalmers each signed their respective parts of Durham’s “official report.”

It too bad at least one of them isn’t a coroner: Durham’s “official report” was a DOA.

On the same day he received the Baker/Chalmers’“body,” Mayor Bill Bell called for an independent investigation of DPD.

There’s a lot more I could say but this letter is getting long.

I’m including after this letter the full text of the statement by over 1000 signatories that appeared in The Chronicle just days ago in response to your Group of 88’s statement.

I hope you have time to send a brief note before you leave Italy.

Once you’re back in the States and rested, I hope we can resume our correspondence.



***********PAID ADVERTISEMENT*****************

The following petition was endorsed by over 1,000 Duke Students along with recent graduates:
On April 6th of last year a full page ad ran in The Chronicle signed by 88 professors and 16 academic programs and departments at Duke University.

Weeks before any indictment was issued, in disregard for due process, our own professors projected guilt onto our peers on the lacrosse team.

In the ad they not only tacitly supported the accusations of the now utterly discredited accuser, but praised protestors who similarly rushed to judgment, while levying baseless accusations of racism against our student body.

In a time of intense emotions and enormous stakes, when our community dearly needed a call for calm, for patience, for rational and careful thinking, these professors instead took a course of action which escalated tensions, spurred divisions along lines of race and class and brought our community into greater turmoil.

Their actions also further undermined the legal process and most likely emboldened a rogue district attorney.
As students who love Duke we are ashamed by the apparent decision of these faculty members to exploit a tragic situation to further their own political and social agendas.

As an institution of higher learning we expect our professors to provide a model of intellectual integrity to which we can aspire—not to act with reckless disregard for fairness, justice and jurisprudence, and then callously refuse to make an apology or accept responsibility for their actions.

For those who would argue their ad has been mischaracterized we offer the following excerpts, which leave no doubt as to the material it contained—

“Students are shouting and whispering about what happened to this young woman…”

“‘If something like this happened to me…what would be used against me—my clothing? Where I was?'"

“No one is really talking about how to keep this young woman herself central to this conversation, how to keep her humanity before us…”

“To the students speaking individually and to the protestors making collective noise, thank you for not waiting and for making yourselves heard.”

Some of the Group of 88 went even further in their ill-begotten rush to judgment. Some professors are alleged to have maligned lacrosse players in their courses; Professor Kim Curtis is alleged to have failed a student (with a 3.5 GPA) simply because he was a member of the team.

Other professors have made some truly shocking public statements, such as—

Prof. Houston Baker’s claim of “Young, white, violent, drunken men among us - implicitly boasted by our athletic directors and administrators - have injured lives,” and his remark that the lacrosse team “may well feel they can claim innocence and sport their disgraced jerseys on campus, safe under the cover of silent whiteness. But where is the black woman who their violence and raucous witness injured for life? Will she ever sleep well again?”

Prof. Mark Anthony Neal’s claim that, “”Regardless of what happened inside of 610 N. Buchanan Blvd, the young men were hoping to consume something that they felt that a black woman uniquely possessed.”

President Brodhead has yet to come forward and defend his students against the assaults launched by his own faculty.


Text copied from pdf form provided at KC Johnson's Durham-in-Wonderland

Responding to Brodhead Comments – 5-16-07

The number of reader comments at JinC keeps growing. I’m very glad of that, but it means, while I read all comments, I can’t respond to them individually.

In this post I'll respond to recent comments regarding Duke’s President, Richard H. Brodhead, in “group fashion.”

I’ve picked three issues concerning Brodhead that keep coming up in reader comments. If your issue isn’t one of them, please comment. I want to hear what you have to say.

1) “It’s not all Brodhead’s fault.”

The “not all Brodhead’s fault” commenters typically say such things as one or more of the following sentences:

Brodhead isn’t responsible for what Nifong did or for the Group of 88’s “social disaster” statement and so much else.

There's only so much a university president can do. Brodhead’s faced with an A&S faculty that’s dominated by loud, ideologically driven, tenured leftists.

Some trustees want only “sunny news;” they don’t want the president locked in battle with the faculty.

University faculties are so entrenched in their “rights,” that a president would be foolish to challenge a faculty, even one such as Duke’s A&S faculty which has so manifestly failed its university in a time of great crisis.

I agree with those who say “it’s not all Brodhead’s fault” when they talk about things he can’t control.

But there’s so much he could have done and didn’t do. And there’s so much he did do that he shouldn’t have done. A few of the “didn’t do” are below under 2.

2) “Brodhead ought to be fired.”

People saying that cite things such as:

a) Brodhead’s refusal last March to meet with the lacrosse parents when they were on campus and his failure since to offer any explanation for refusing to meet with them.

b) Brodhead’s silence when white lacrosse players were targeted by “activists,” including adults employed by DU, with a “CASTRATE” banner and by others distributing “Vigilante” posters within sight of his office windows on March 29, 2006.

c) Brodhead’s decision to say nothing critical of those who shouted threats of physical violence, including death threats at Reade Seligmann both outside the Durham County Courthouse and within the courtroom on May 18, 2006.

What current university president has refused to meet with parents in the circumstances the lacrosse parents were in on March 25; or remained silent as a group of his students came under attack from hate-filled activists whose actions really endangered not just the students they were targeting, but all other Duke students as well?

Among current university Presidents, Duke’s Dick Brodhead is unique in his refusals and his silences.

He shouldn’t be in the president’s office.

But I don’t know if the trustees can fire Brodhead outright. There are very likely contractual arrangements between Brodhead and the board that prevent that except in the most extreme circumstances.

But I believe the trustees can force Brodhead’s resignation if board chair Steel tells him there is a strong feeling among many trustees that he needs to promptly replace a number of members of what’s known as “Dick’s senior team.”

Brodhead couldn’t miss that signal from the trustees. He’d know they want him to go, too; and that they believe his last, best service to Duke should be to start the house cleaning at the Allen Building and elsewhere that needs to be done.

If Brodhead will start that job, he’ll make the very difficult situation facing his successor somewhat less difficult.

As he begins developing “arrangements” and/or “separation packages” with some of his senior staffers, Brodhead can also begin to make his own arrangements and develop his separation package with the trustees:

”Board chair Robert Steel also announced today that outgoing President Richard H. Brodhead has agreed to serve as the first Director of Duke’s new Center for the Advanced Study of Changing Facts. The center, to be located in a group of 88 condos in downtown Durham …”

3) “The trustees pretty much got the kind of man they wanted. That’s why they’re supporting him.”

In one way, I can understand readers saying that. After all, during the last thirteen months not one trustee has, as far as I know, said one public word suggesting the slightest disapproval of any of the actions and inactions of Brodhead and “Dick’s senior team.”

The trustees have been silent even as Brodhead and his team's actions and inactions have concerned, shocked, angered and embarrassed many tens of thousands of Duke students, parents and alumni.

But I just can’t believe the trustees, if they could have “a do over,” would say: “Dick Brodhead’s just the man to lead Duke University. But can we can convince him to leave Yale?”

I’ll be saying more about Brodhead and Duke’s current crisis very soon.

In the meantime, your comments are always welcome.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The Churchill Series – May 15, 2007

(One of a series of weekday posts on the life of Winston S. Churchill.)

In Churchill on Leadership: Executive Success in the Face of Adversity Steven F. Hayward gives us an example of Churchill, as Hayward puts it, softening a message in order “to get the point across without giving offense or causing acrimony.”

From Hayward: "Although Churchill often used blunt and direct language, he was also the master of softening a message so as to get the point across without giving offense or causing acrimony. One of the best examples of this is his tactful reworking of a telegram to the dominion governments in 1940 regarding the status of the Duke of Windsor.

Churchill had been quite close to the Duke when he was King Edward VIII, and had defended him during the abdication crisis of 1936. But the Duke and especially his American wife, Wallace Simpson, were thought to have Nazi sympathies that the Germans might exploit, especially if they remained in Spain or Portugal.

The government decided to send the Duke to a sinecure post at one of Britain’s overseas colonies. The Colonial Office drafted a message for Churchill to send, which said:"

'The activities of the Duke of Windsor on the Continent in recent months have been causing HM[His Majesty] and myself grave uneasiness as his inclinations are well known to be pro-Nazi and he may become the center of intrigue. We regard it as a real danger that he should move freely on the Continent. Even if he were willing to return to this country his presence here would be most embarrassing both to HM and to the Government.

In all the circumstances it has been felt necessary to try to tie him down in some appointment which might appeal to him and his wife and I have decided with HM’s approval to offer him the Governorship of the Bahamas. I do not know yet whether he will accept. Despite the obvious objections to this solution we feel that it is the least of possible evils.'
"Churchill rewrote the message as follows:"
'The position of the Duke of Windsor on the Continent in recent months has been causing His Majesty and His Majesty’s Government embarrassment, as, though his loyalties are unimpeachable, there is always a backwash of Nazi intrigue which seeks to make trouble about him. The Continent is now in enemy hands. There are personal and family difficulties about his return to this country.

In all the circumstances it has been felt that an appointment abroad might appeal to him and his wife, and I have, with His Majesty’s cordial approval, offered him the Governorship of the Bahamas. His Royal Highness has intimated that he will accept the appointment. I think he may render useful service and find a suitable occupation there.'" (pgs. 110-111)
In tomorrow’s post, I’ll offer a few comments on Churchill’s “softening” of the Colonial Office’s draft message.

INNOCENT: When bad is good

"... these three individuals [David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann,] are innocent of these charges."

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, Apr. 11, 2007

On May 28, 2006, the New York Times’ David Brooks published a column titled “The Duke Witch Hunt” in which he said:

But now that we know more about the Duke lacrosse team, simple decency requires that we return to that scandal, if only to correct the slurs that were uttered by millions of people, including me. …
A few days later the Raleigh N&O reprinted Brooks’ column and a few days after that, on June 3, the N&O published a letter by NC NAACP Legal Redress Chair Al McSurely.

While the NC NAACP was claiming it was only “monitoring” the case, intelligent people knew it was really doing all it could to help rogue DA Mike Nifong prosecute it.

As you’d expect, McSurely’s letter was an attack on Brooks in which McSurely played the race card and engaged in various forms of slimes and smears without addressing the facts of the case or of Brooks' column.

I posted twice (here and here) on McSurely’s letter, which I said was so bad in terms of substantive argument that it “has to give encouragement to those who believe the indicted lacrosse players are very likely innocent.”

So, ironically, bad was good.

In a somewhat different and much more important way, the Baker/Chalmers report is so bad it’s good for those seeking justice.

Consider: City Manager Patrick Baker, Police Chief Steve Chalmers and everyone else who helped them with the report knew an accounting of what DPD did during the Hoax would at some point be asked for. They had months to review relevant police actions and prepare their account, including their explanations for what DPD did.

Does anyone doubt Baker and Chalmers wanted to put the best possible face they could on DPD’s actions without placing themselves into or deeper down obstruction of justice and perjury “holes?”

Yet look at the best they could come up with: an instant DOA that led Durham Mayor Bill Bell to call for an independent investigation of DPD the very day Baker submitted the “report.”

Every step toward an independent investigation and, ultimately, a federal investigation is a step toward the goal of wringing from the Nifong/DPD scandal as much justice as possible.

But those who have been wronged by Nifong/DPD – David Evans, Collin Finnerty, Reade Seligmann and their families most of all, the rest of the lacrosse team and their parents certainly, and the citizens of Durham who had a right to expect not frame-up and now cover-up from elected officials and sworn police officers - won’t get that justice unless they have a lot of information that’s currently being withheld by DA Nifong, his staff, DPD, and City Manager Baker.

The Baker/Chalmers “report,” by its obvious inadequacy including withholding so much needed information, has spurred demands for an independent investigation.

That’s a good coming out of a very bad report.

Something else: By its failure to report on so many critically relevant Nifong/DPD actions, the report suggests how extensive Nifong/DPD actions were which Baker and Chalmers felt couldn’t be explained and needed covering up.

The public’s recognition of that should lead it to support Mayor Bell’s call for an independent investigation; indeed, to demand it.

That’s another good thing resulting from the very bad Baker/Chalmers “report.”

We still don’t know most of what really went on during the frame-up and the subsequent efforts to cover it up. Until we do, we can't hold the guilty responsible, acknowledge those who acted honorably and fix the very broken DA and police functions in Durham.

Monday, May 14, 2007

The Churchill Series – May 14, 2007

(One of a series of weekday posts on the life of Winston S. Churchill.)

In In Search of Churchill: A Historian’s Journey (John Wiley & Sons), Churchill’s official biographer Sir Martin Gilbert recounts many amusing stories

One that you’ll find on pg. 23 concerns the Duchess of Buccleuth, whose husband fought with Churchill at the Battle of Omdurman. The Duchess had been a friend of Churchill’s all her life.

Churchill visited her in early 1939 and, as she later explained to Gilbert, she sought Churchill’s advice on a matter of some importance.

It seems Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, who at the time was doing all he could to keep Churchill out of his Government, would soon be visiting the area to speak at an outdoor meeting to the local Conservatives. The Duchess was in charge of making arrangements for the event. She asked Churchill where he thought she should put the podium.

“It doesn’t matter where you put it,” Churchill replied, “as long as he has the sun in his eyes and the wind in his teeth.”

From JInC News: UNC beats Duke

Yesterday was graduation day at both The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Duke University.

I'm on the "send" lists of the development offices at both universities.

Today JinC News can report that in a head-to-head development office contest, UNC has scored a "win" over Duke.

While there's been nothing so far from Duke's development office to its Class of '07 members, this morning UNC Class of '07 members received the following email:

As the Class of 2007 joins the ranks of Carolina alumni, we invite you to think back to what made Carolina such a special place for you. Ball games enjoyed, friendships forged, wisdom gleaned — and opportunities made possible by private support.

Click here to see a Flash video celebrating why we love Carolina. And please help us keep providing opportunities to students by giving to the Carolina Annual Fund. Make a gift online at — because you love Carolina.

Trouble viewing the video? You may need to download the free Flash player, available at
"Hark, the sound of Tarheel crdit cards."

Congratulations, Carolina.

But don't rest on your laurals because JinC News has just learned that Duke's development office is alreary at work preparing for the '08 rematch.

“Can Brodhead Survive?”

We’ve just ended a Duke Commencement weekend during which, at various social events, I got to speak with a mix of people, including old friends and other folks I was meeting for the first time.

What they all had in common was some connection to Duke: students, parents, grandparents, many young people including brothers, sisters and friends of graduates, “old family friends” of graduates (“I remember the night she was born. ”), some faculty and a few administrators, none senior.

Some people were in Durham to help celebrate the graduation of the first member of their family to graduate Duke; others were there to see a third or fourth generation “Duke family” member process into Wallace Wade Stadium.

Most of the conversations revolved around pride in the graduates, “old stories” recalled and laughed at, future plans, and fondness and appreciation for Duke. The Hoax was not mentioned or if it was, it was only in passing.

But there were also times when conversations focused on aspects of the Hoax. I never brought the Hoax up in any conversation, but when others did, I responded to their questions and comments.

Very few people I talked with this weekend know I blog but just about all of them knew or learned I live in Durham. So for them I was a kind of “resident expert.”

Tomorrow I’ll say more about those Hoax conversations. Today I’ll confine this post to the question that, in one form or another, came up most often: “Can Brodhead survive?”

[Full disclosure: In late December 2006, when President Brodhead made his “jump the sinking ship” decision that he could after all support the recommendation Duke Law Professor James Coleman had made six months earlier that Nifong remove himself from the Hoax case, I called for Brodhead’s resignation “the sooner the better.”

I’m even more convinced now than in December that Brodhead’s resignation is in the best interests of Duke University.]

I was asked the “can he survive” question directly in one-to-one conversations and in small groups of up to five.

Each time I was asked, I’d pause before answering, sometimes nodding, looking at the questioner and repeating the question.

I’ll bet you know why I did that. Sure, I was giving the questioner and any others who heard it a chance to “go first” on the question.

Many did. (So much for respecting “the resident expert.")

Anyway, in every case those answering the question indicated they didn’t see how Brodhead could “survive” as Duke’s President.

Some wondered why the trustees hadn’t already fired him outright.

The people wondering about that didn’t strike me as necessarily angry, so much as they felt his leadership had been, as one put it, “a disaster for Duke.”

Others felt it was only a matter of time before the trustees would “work something out with Brodhead.” “Something out” to these people meaning what others call “a golden parachute.”

A few people said they thought the threats of suits might be holding the trustees back, since letting Brodhead go would be seen as an admission that Duke had mismanaged its response to the witch hunt and frame-up of its students.

None of those who spoke had anything good to say about Brodhead.

On the other hand, there was no “dancing on the grave.” The people talked about Brodhead’s departure the way we would talk about an impending operation that is necessary and should lead to better functioning, but is not anything to cheer about.

The conversations were quiet; no one tried to dominate others; and while there was some polite interrupting, people were listening to one another.

I had expected to be asked the Brodhead “survival question” and had thought about how I’d answer it. I wanted what I said to be sensible, fair to Brodhead and helpful to those listening to me.

Here’s how I tried to answer the “survival” question:

I can’t say for sure what’s going to happen but it’s a very safe guess that at best Brodhead will have a shortened presidency marked by limited achievement.

A typical term for a Duke president is 8 to 11 years. Brodhead’s just completed his 3rd year. I don’t see him surviving for 5 more years.

I feel sure if the trustees had known when they first considered Brodhead that he was the kind of person who would remain silent when death threats were shouted at Reade Seligmann and “Vigilante” posters targeting Duke students were distributed within sight of his office windows, they would have realized he was not the candidate to whom they should offer the presidency of Duke University.

I doubt the trustees want to or can prop up Brodhead for another 5 or more years.

Except in a case of a president such as President Terry Sanford who assumed office at a time of extraordinary division and crisis, a Duke president is expected to spend his/her first few years getting to know the University, building relationships, and identifying and laying out a plan that will address the University’s needs and expand its services.

By the end of a president’s third year support for the president within the University community should be very strong. He/she should be seen as an admired and uniting figure. That admiration and unity is the “launch pad” for what the president wants to accomplish in the next 5 to 8 years.

This June will mark the end of the 3rd year of Brodhead’s presidency. He reaches it as a divisive and much criticized figure whose presidency is badly damaged.

What’s more it is as certain as anything in this life that Brodhead and the office of Duke President will suffer even more damage in the coming months as the Duke community and the general public learn more of what went on at Duke during the witch hunt and frame-up.

Can trustees have much confidence in a president who won’t say whether or not the Dean of Students advised students under police investigation for committing multiple felonies not to let their parents know that was happening? Can they have any confidence in such a president?

Can trustees have much confidence in Brodhead when they read a Chronicle ad endorsed by 1,000 Duke students asking when he will repudiate the faculty’s Group of 88 with whom he’s widely regarded to be sympathetic, and instead start standing up for students?

Folks, when answering the “survival” question at those social functions, I didn’t always say all or most of the above. But you get the idea of what I was saying.

I want to say more about what will encourage Brodhead to leave Duke “sooner” than he might otherwise. I also want to say something in response to commenters who’ve pointed out that “it’s not all Brodhead’s fault,” something with which I fully agree.

But this post has gotten long. So I’ll end here. I'll post in the near future on Brodhead and the very valid “it’s not all his fault” observation.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

INNOCENT: Chafe responded; I’m holding

"... these three individuals [David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann,] are innocent of these charges."

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, Apr. 11, 2007

This post is to let those of you who’ve been following Duke Professor William Chafe and my letter exchanges know that Chafe’s responded to my most recent letter/post.

The post containing my letter to which Chafe responded is here.

In that post you’ll also find background information and links to our previous exchanges.

I’ll not post Chafe’s most recent letter for another day or two because, when I post it, I want to also post my letter replying to it.

This has been commencement weekend at both Duke and UNC-Chapel Hill. We’ve had guests since Thursday, and many wonderful celebratory events to attend.

Tomorrow, Monday morning, we’ll breakfast with and say goodbye to a group of friends, after which “regular life” and “regular blogging” will resume following five busy and wonderful days.

Sometime late Monday or Tuesday morning, I’ll post Chafe’s letter along with mine in reply.

In the meantime, I’ve explained my delay to Chafe who understands it.

When I let Chafe know I’d delay in responding to his latest letter, I also said that while his letter was civil and to the point, I found it disappointing because, IMO, it did not advance our discussion.

Perhaps Chafe and I are going nowhere. We’ll see.

In the meantime, I hope any of you who just can’t wait to “say it” will find another blog at which to vent.

I’m confident most of you will bring to mind examples of many who these past thirteen months have worked slowly and to serious and useful results.

That’s what I’m trying to do.

Any results so far?

Well, the next time someone says all the email Group of 88 members receive is threatening, etc., people can link to the comment threads on the posts linked above. They’ll find on those threads close to forty thoughtful and concerned comments waiting for a response from Chafe or some other member of Duke faculty's Group of 88.

Sure, there were a few trollish comments on the threads along with the thoughtful and concerned ones, but that’s no excuse for not answering when so many thoughtful and concerned people are asking questions that deserve answers.

Stay tuned.

And remember: a blog is a place where anyone can look in.

Would those of you who were present in May 2005 when JinC began have believed that, by the late summer of 2006, CBS researchers would be going through JinC Duke Hoax posts and comments in preparation for what became the late Ed Bradley’s October 2006 60 Minutes episode; the one in which Duke Law School Professor James Coleman described the DPD’s “no wrong choices” frame-up and Duke’s President, Richard H. Brodhead, told Bradley “the facts kept changing?”

Who knows? Maybe some Duke trustees are reading what Brodhead and “Dick’s senior team” in the Allen Building still refer to as “the lacrosse blogs.” (Time to catch up, Dick and “team.” They’re now called “Duke Hoax” blogs. - JinC)

I don’t know whether any trustees are “reading the Hoax blogs,” but I heard a few times this weekend some are.

I sure hope so. That can only be good for Duke and justice.

This made me smile

A little while ago a commenter reminding us that people commenting on the web aren't necessarily who they claim to be, used the name of the My Fair Lady character Professor Henry Higgins.

The commenter signed:

Henry Higgins
22 Baker Street
London, England
A few minutes later citizen journalist AMac, in true Sherlock Holmes fashion, carefully noted "Higgins'" address.

That led AMac to a deduction:
Baker Street... hmmm, how irregular.
Thank you, AMac. And my best regards to Dr. Watson.

"Just you wait, Henry Higgins"

Ted Vaden is a professional journalist whose decades of devoted service to the Raleigh News & Observer were rewarded when he was made Public Editor.

Lately Vaden’s been using his Sunday column to campaign for a ban on anonymous comments at N&O blogs, including his.

Vaden says if Anon comments are banned, that will improve the “tone” of the N&O blogs.

Many readers believe he’s just trying to stifle exposure of his many failures as Public Editor. For example, Vaden’s never criticized the N&O for its failure to report promptly and fully the Duke lacrosse players' extensive cooperation with police. Nor has Vaden ever criticized the N&O for blaming the players, their parents and attorneys for its racially biased and often false Duke Hoax reporting.

Anon critics have been in the lead in pointing out the N&O's and Vaden’s failures.

Today I posted in response to Vaden: "Should the N&O ban Anons?"

A few hours later I received the comment you’ll see below. But first a few introductory words.

Remember Eliza Doolittle and Professor Henry Higgins in My Fair Lady? We learned from them:

”The rain in Spain is mainly on the plain.”
Now Henry Higgins’ comment to JinC:
What does not seem to be addressed in the N&O article is the plain fact that ALL blog comments are essentially anonymous.

There is no mechanism on the web to ensure the true identity of ANY user.


Henry Higgins
22 Baker Street
London, England
Thanks, Professor Higgins

Should the N&O ban Anons?

The Raleigh News & Observer’s Public Editor Ted Vaden, a professional journalist, has been a faithful N&O employee for more than twenty-five years. And judging by his Sunday columns, he's also a great admirer of the N&O.

In fact, Vaden’s such a great admirer of the N&O that many folks say his title should be N&O Public Defender. I'll use that title in this post and you can comment on my doing that.

Did you know Public Defender Vaden doesn’t like anonymous comments from readers, especially bloggers?

Defender Vaden wants the N&O to ban all such comments from its blogs, including his.

Vaden says the ban is necessary in order to improve the level or “tone” of discussion at N&O blogs.

But some people think Vaden’s rush to ban has more to do with Anons’ criticisms of Vaden for his many failures to identify and condemn on readers’ behalf the N&O’s often racially inflammatory, biased and sometimes downright false Duke lacrosse reporting, news commentary and editorializing.

Today, Vaden’s column is titled: “Readers on anonymous blog posts.” It contains twelve reader comments, most of which support the ban. I decided to respond to a few of them.

The reader comments are in italics.


"When people get behind a keyboard and feel they can write/ post/chat/e-mail without fear of identification, something awful happens and their inner voice -- normally covered up by layers of proper behavior taught through years of being a human being -- is made loud and obnoxious, similar to what happens when someone has too much to drink." -- Jim Metcalf, Cary.

Mr. Metcalf, some people anonymous “behind a keyboard” act the way you say, but so do some people who are known.

Some of the vilest things ever written have known authors; some serious and honorable writings were and are published anonymously.

Hitler was proud to be known as the author of Mein Kampf, while John Jay, Alexander Hamilton and James Madison published The Federalist Papers using, as I do, a pseudonym; in their case “Publicus.”

"I believe firmly that The N&O should allow anonymous postings. Freedom of expression and the full exchange of ideas trump identification. Many citizens, particularly those in the public sector, do not dare to exercise their freedom of speech in a newspaper or blog. Identification can lead to retribution." -- Anonymous.

You’re right, Anon. There are many public office holders who don’t say certain things lest what they say lead to retribution by the N&O and others.

Just think of the N&O’s vicious, racist treatment of the white Duke students on the Men’s 2006 lacrosse team. Those students never did anything to reduce the N&O’s circulation or advertising revenue. In fact, as members of a championship lacrosse team, they made news that helped the N&O do what it’s in business to do: sell papers and make money.

Considering how the N&O treated those Duke students who had done it no harm and very likely some good, can you imagine how the N&O treats people critical of it? Can you really blame people for wanting to remain anonymous?

"Anonymous blog comments are no better than graffiti, and are often as immature and irresponsible. The cure for both is the same: obliteration." -- David Thomas, Raleigh.

Mr. Thomas, during WW II a “V” chalked anonymously on a wall in Nazi occupied countries was a very common form of graffiti, which the Nazis did all they could to obliterate because the “V” was a sign of resistance and hope.

Suppose tomorrow you walked into a bathroom at the N&O, and you saw penciled on the wall the following piece of graffiti:

”I’m so ashamed of my N&O colleagues for withholding from the public and the rest of media for thirteen months the news that during the 3/24/06 interview, Crystal Mangum not only said Duke lacrosse players had raped her, but also said they raped the second dancer who, Mangum claimed, didn't report the rape for fear of losing her job.

Now, Mr. Thomas, Public Defender Vaden, Executive Editor for News Melanie Sill, Managing Editor John Drescher and the story reporters, Anne Blythe and Samiha Khanna, might all want to obliterate that piece of graffiti, but would you?

Folks, I may post in a few days responses to some of the other reader comments that appeared today in Defender Vaden’s column.